HOW TO TASTE CHOCOLATE
As mentioned yesterday, recently I hosted a chocolate tasting party. The most important aspect of that is the tasting part. So today I want to share with you how to taste chocolate-yes there is way to taste chocolate :)
These are the chocolates I used. I purchased the Perugira, Godiva and Green & Black's at a grocery store in the organics and specialty foods section. I bought the Lindt and Santander from an International grocery store. The TCHO chocolate was purchased at Whole Foods... but actually my sister bought it at a Whole Foods in Nevada because it is made in San Francisco and the Whole Foods I went to in Chicago didn't carry it.
I made a little note card with a grid with the names of the chocolate and these six steps to tasting chocolate so that each person could take notes while tasting to help them remember the things they like about each sample.
Appearance: Look for a consistent color and shiny finish on your chocolate; this signifies well-crafted chocolate. When you see chocolate that appears discolored or white in areas, that means the chocolate has either been sitting in a place that is too hot or too cold and the oils and sugars may have separated.
Snap: Listen for a clean, bright snap when you break your chocolate; this in an indicator of good tempering. You will notice that the more cacao in the chocolate (aka how dark the chocolate is) the crisper the snap. So, when you break milk or white chocolate in half you will notice there is no real "snap."
Smell: This helps to determine the taste; gently rub a piece then inhale deeply and note the aromas. There are certain aromas that exist with cocoa beans grown in different parts of the world (that's when you know you are a good chocolatier-when you can smell chocolate and know it was grown in Columbia, etc.)
Taste: Place the chocolate piece on your tongue without biting into it; let it soften to release flavors. Even if there are no added flavors, different cocoa beans can have difference tastes because of their fermentation process and where the beans were grown. These can be a nutty, floral, citrus or fruity taste, among others.
Texture: Feel the chocolate's texture in your mouth; it should melt evenly and feel smooth and silky. (After doing this party, I always notice when chocolate tastes grainy and I can't stand it!)
Aftertaste: The finish can sometimes be very different from the initial flavor you tasted; as the chocolate melts on your tongue, notice how it changes.
*Be prepared... after hosting a chocolate tasting party, you may turn in to a chocolate snob and not settle for inexpensive chocolates. My favorite is by far the TCHO, I can buy it online, or have my sister ship to to me :) But it is the most expensive per ounce out of the ones I used (that was my husband's question) so now if he wants to surprise me with some fine chocolate-he has to work a little harder than just running to the store :)